Elephants never forget. Seemingly, dinosaurs weren't blessed with the same memory, as Bub and Bob - the main protagonists of the series - can never seem to make up their mind as to whether it should be called Bust-A-Move or Puzzle Bobble. Either way, the ball-firing, bubble-bursting match-3-or-more-of-the-same-colour game is making it's way to the 3DS in the form of Puzzle Bobble Universe - and, you'll be pleased to know, it's more of the same.
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For those who are unfamiliar with the series, Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A.Move sees you trying to clear a screen of bubbles by matching three or more of the same colour, which, in the only logical fashion, makes them explode and disappear. The only catch is, rather than shuffling bubbles around like on other match 3 games, in Puzzle Bobble, you're firing bubbles out of a giant bubble cannon, and so have to worry about angles of incidence and other things you've likely never used since GCSE Physics, as you try and bounce your bubble into place. The series has always been a huge success, and has appeared on various consoles over the years - from an arcade machine in 1994, to the awesome Bust-A-Move 4 on the Dreamcast in 2000 (the first one of the series I played), to the DS games of Bust-A-Move DS and Puzzle Bobble Galaxy in more recent times - and now, it's moving onto new soil, with its first instalment on the 3DS.
We recently got to have a go on Puzzle Bobble Universe at the Discover 3DS event in Amsterdam, where we were treated to a rather bizarre intro sequence in which Bub and Bob, the two friendly dinosaurs are hovering around in space, when suddenly - for some unknown reason - the screen fills with dastardly bubbles. As is always the way with these things, one thing leads to another, and ultimately, poor old Bob finds himself getting kidnapped (you'd be permanently sad if you were always the one getting into trouble), and its up to save him and the rest of the solar system by - you guessed it - popping all the bubbles. No-one really cares that the story makes no sense though, because popping bubbles is fun - and Puzzle Bobble lets you do it in a slightly more grown up way without the danger of someone laughing at you.
The levels we played were pretty much standard Puzzle Bobble fare, with a load of coloured balls are arranged (sometimes making a picture) at the top of the screen, and it falling down to you to fire your bubbles to create groups of three. Adding a third bubble to the group causes such a difference in pressure inside and outside the bubble, they burst, firing the previously encapsulated enemies towards you, which, for the first time, actually look like they're being thrown towards you, thanks to the 3D screen on the 3DS. Far from being on your own against the encroaching mass of bubbles, however, there's also a selection power-ups you can pick up, which have been, well, powered up, and can eliminate big sections of the playing field in one go. Whether it's a line of rainbows that fall down the screen, clearing everything below them or even a massive laser that moves from side to side, eliminating everything on the screen, the power ups can be lifesavers when you've messed up your shots.
We love a good Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move here at Everybody Plays, but sadly, as of yet, Puzzle Bobble Universe has no definite release date, besides a vague 'launch window' (any time between the 3DS' launch on the 25th March to June). With any luck, it'll be a confirmed release for day one, meaning we'll be able to pick it up when we get our 3DS, but we'll let you know as soon as we do - so stay tuned!
Second opinion: Ian Morris
It's hard to explain quite why Puzzle Bobble games are so addictive, but there's something about them that keeps you coming back. Once you start playing a game, it's just hard to stop, as the combination of bright colours, short levels, and challenging, but never unfair gameplay keep you coming back for more.
From what I played at the Discover 3DS event, Puzzle Bobble is nothing new - but that's probably a good thing. While the game makes little use of the 3D effect, everything that makes it a great game's still there, and trying to bounce a shot off the wall, trying to figure out exactly how it's going to bounce off is every bit as much fun as it's ever been.
As Sarah said above - with any luck, this'll be out on day one, as it's a definite purchase for me.